by Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen, released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.
Essay from the wonderful book The Wealth of the Commons: A world beyond market & state.
The argument isn’t complete in the article (thus also not in my excerpts) but it does appear there is a book-length work on the subject by this author (with another co-author).
Over the course of modernity, commons as societal institutions have increasingly been reified to being considered merely material objects. This is nothing less than a fundamentalist reinterpretation of the commons influenced by neoliberal thought. No longer do people perceive the purpose or the meaning of socially binding arrangements when it comes to commons, they mostly see only the object itself to which a societal convention refers. And where the material reality of the phenomena in question is immaterial and volatile – for example, the air the knowledge about a plant’s healing properties – they are reified by privatizing them and assigning them a monetary value – through the establishment of carbon emissions trading rights, for instance, or through the patenting of knowledge according to the WTO’s regime for intellectual property rights.
Economic, ecological and social crises are merging to form a single one, a crisis of civilization. In light of catastrophes that they have triggered, the values that characterize our current civilization are proving to be destructive. We need a paradigm shift worldwide: a shift away from egocentric consumerism, away from a society’s structural imperative to maximize growth, and away from our arrogance with respect to the living environment. We, the people of our epoch, need new (old) societal institutions that are bound to a new (old) relationship of humans and nature.
In keeping with the dominant understanding that the feasibility of any plan is dependent on funding, the question of money is often raised to quickly in discussions about the realization of alternatives to the growth-based economy.l Even if some projects to strengthen the commons cannot do without money, this does not alter the fact that the logic of money as we know it is a fundamental built-in error of current-day socialization.
The logic of money is that of a mathematical equation, an exchange of equivalents. Order is supposedly achieved through the objectivity (or tangible quality of an object) of an invisible hand, which is supposed to be superior to the disorder of diversity given by nature. In the present, this is proving to be completely wrong. The logic of money is not suitable as a moral foundation for civilization. (emphasis added)
Presented without commentary (other than my above emphasis) under fair use and/or the terms of the license of the original article (CC:BY-SA 3.0) just in case fair use wasn’t enough ;)